The only previous meeting between the Slovak Republic and Great Britain on Davis Cup duty took place on the red clay of the Slovan Stadium in Bratislava in April, 1995 and ended with a British team, featuring a young Tim Henman, Miles Maclagan and doubles specialist Neil Broad, being utterly unable to prevent a 5-0 whitewash in favour of the newly independent home side.
The match took place in the first round of Euro/Africa Zone Group 2, and although there was no disgrace in losing on an unfamiliar surface to Karol Kucera and Jan Kroslak, two players who would go on to compete in the upper echelons of the game, it is hardly the most positive portent to consider as the two teams prepare to resume acquaintances in the 2012 version.
The Great Britain team in those days was in a state of flux. The previous captain, Tony Pickard, had stepped down at the tail end of 1994, a calendar year in which they were relegated from Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 after defeats by Romania and Portugal. It was under the caretaker charge of Bill Knight, shortly before the baton would be passed on to David Lloyd.
Just as they will do this weekend, Great Britain would go into the tie deprived of their most recognised performer – Jeremy Bates had announced his retirement from the team months earlier – while Mark Petchey was deemed unsuitable for the surface and the requisite paperwork had not been completed for Greg Rusedski to fill the void.
As coincidence would have it, all four singles players in the tie were born in 1974, with Henman only having broken into the top 200 and far removed at that point from the wily veteran who would reach the French Open semi-finals on clay in 2004. It was a first call-up for "clay specialist" Maclagan, the Zimbabwe-born Scot, who had been a late addition to the squad after displaying encouraging form in an ATP challenger in Monte Carlo.
Kucera, a future world No.6, was the most capable of the quintet, but Kroslak, a future world No.53, was no mug either, especially on clay. Henman's coach, David Felgate, who will provide the commentary duties for British Eurosport's coverage of events at Braehead Arena this weekend, remembers it well.
"It was always going to be a big ask to go away and play on clay against a team who were ranked higher than we were at the time," Felgate told Herald Sport. "I remember we went to Germany before the tie to prepare on the clay at Munich, so we did everything we possibly could."
He added: "There wasn't a huge crowd, just a good partisan support and I suppose it was early in Slovakia's Davis Cup life, having been part of Czechoslovakia for so long. Both opening singles matches I remember we lost in four sets and had slight chances but we weren't favourites in either match; it was long before Tim had really cracked it on clay. He had been moving through the rankings at the end of '94 but he had broken a leg on court in Singapore so had only been back playing a couple of months. The doubles was maybe where we came closest to it. Nobody likes losing but they were favourites on paper, and it turned out that way."
Perhaps fortunately for Great Britain this weekend, Felgate sees only limited correspondences between the two ties. "I don't see too many similarites," said Felgate, a former performance director at the LTA. "[Dan] Evans has played for a few more years than either Henman or Maclagan had at that point, and we are favourites in the doubles in this tie. We have got homefield advantage which must count for something.
"You could maybe compare the levels of the two teams if Andy [Murray] was playing but what Tim went on to achieve in his career just isn't comparable with what James Ward and Dan Evans have achieved in the game so far. Miles went on to have a good career; his career high might have been having match points against Boris Becker at Wimbledon. Neil Broad was a top doubles player at the time, as the two British players are now.
"As for this time around, I guess we must be underdogs based on the rankings," Felgate said. "But the beauty of the Davis Cup is when somebody wins a match that they are not supposed to do on rankings. Clearly for us to win this tie this weekend, that is what we need to happen. We are clearly favourites in the doubles, while their No.1 [Lukas Lacko] is clearly favourite for his two singles ties, and if that goes according to the form book that would be 2-1. So the other two matches are where the tie might be decided."
*British Eurosport broadcasts live coverage from each of Great Britain's Davis Cup 2012 Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 fixtures. British Eurosport 2 is available on Sky (Channel 411) and Virgin Media (Channel 525)